Class I and class II MHC bind self peptide sets that are strikingly different in their evolutionary characteristics

Immunogenetics. 2000 Jan;51(1):8-15. doi: 10.1007/s002510050002.


Comparison of peptides eluted from human class I and class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and the proteins from which they are derived (source proteins) revealed that class I MHC bind peptides derived from proteins that are highly conserved, hydrophilic, and universally expressed, while the peptides themselves are hydrophobic and even more conserved than their source proteins. In contrast, source proteins for class II-bound peptides were not significantly more conserved than a random sample of proteins. Class II-bound peptides were generally more conserved than their source proteins but were significantly less conserved than class I-bound peptides. The characteristics of class I-bound peptides can probably be explained by the selectivity of processing and transport of peptides for binding by class I, while the relative lack of selectivity of peptide binding for class II may explain the high incidence of autoimmune diseases associated with alleles of these molecules.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / genetics
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Autoantigens / chemistry
  • Autoantigens / genetics
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / chemistry
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology*
  • Rodentia


  • Autoantigens
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Peptide Fragments